Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tight fit

Snow snow snow, we have had a lot of it here in Copenhagen this week. In fact as I write it is -3 degrees celsius and big fat flakes are falling outside, it is 3pm and almost dark.

Needless to say the best course of action when faced with such frostiness is to stay tucked up in bed. This way you can have the sensation of living inside a snow dome without actually having to deal with the snow. The grand secret of snow being that whilst it makes everything look very soft and pristine white, it is extremely cold.

Alas, sometimes leaving the warm confines of the apartment cannot be avoided. Going outside these days involves several layers of clothing, beginning with thermal underwear and ending with a fluffy hat. How to make oneself look respectable in such a gettup is almost beyond my powers. Simple jeans and boots are the best solution. But there are only so many days that you can wear jeans before you begin to crave a little femininity in the form of a skirt (and also jeans do start to smell weird after a while, I mean, you have to wash them at some point right?).

Luckily some genius person invented tights for occasions such as these. After days or weeks of jeans there can be nothing more glorious than slipping into a pair of thick woolen tights (or two for extra thermal layers) and getting all girled up in a nice skirt. 

Sadly, unless you have the legs of a baby giraffe you have probably not ventured into the realms of the boldly coloured tights featured so heavily in the last few seasons. But you need not discount them completely, because they do look fabulous on little girls...in fact  there is also nothing cuter than little girls in skirts and tights.

This winter there has been an explosion of adorably colourful ruffle skirts and cute smock dresses colour blocked with bold tights. Ribbing has been popular (as seen in these efforts from Wheat). 

If you want something a bit more fun Petite Bateau make polka dots look more stylish than you would have thought possible. 

If there was ever a less harmful way to live vicariously through your daughter it is surely with a colourful selection of tights, what girl doesn't want bright (insert favourite colour here) legs? 
Wanna swap legs?

After all, unless a herd of baby giraffes wanting to trade legs comes along, the rest of us aren't going to be able to pull them off quite so easily any time soon. 

Wish as we might.

Take care, 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Big Give... 4 weeks to go!

Today marks the count down for The Big Give, with only 4 weeks until the big day! While one part of me is slightly worried, mainly due to my own lack of Christmas shopping (!), the other part of me is super excited that we will be part of such an exciting event.

Last night was the first of two volunteer nights and the dedication and enthusiasm in the room was magic. We will be coordinating nearly 100 volunteers on the day and will be spending a good part of the next week working out where best they can assist on the day.

We are also pleased to let you know that we have had some really generous individuals and businesses step forward and volunteer goods, services and cash. Thanks to these fabulous donations, we are now able to tick some of the most important things off our list including; a venue, tables, chairs, most tableware, a Christmas tree, chickens, fresh fruit and vegetables, gifts for the children and an amazing MC.

There are still a few things on our wish list... maybe you can help us out?

- 30 large plastic table cloths
- 350 large plastic plates
- ham/beef
- grocery gift cards for adult gifts ($30 value - Coles, Woolworths etc.)
- art & craft supplies for our children's activity area

If you happen to be based in Melbourne, we also have some paper decorations being made by a fabulous group of mums. If you have an hour or two to spare and would like to make some decorations - please let us know and we will send you the details.

Thanks to everyone for your offers of support and sponsorship. Every little bit helps with an event such as this! All of these little (and not so little) donations mean that Christmas will be that little bit more special for those who can't do this on their own.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lakage Drømme aka Layer Cake Dreams

When I was small the layer cake was an object of mystery and wonder for me.  The most appealing thing about layer cake, in my opinion, is the naughty extra layer of icing. It is cakeish, but not dry, soft but more wet than spongy… Ideal for little taste buds really.

Of course the other reason that the layer cake was so interesting to me was that until recently, I had never actually seen one of these elusive cakes produced - my mother’s own baking efforts running more along the lines of oatmeal slices and rarely involving chocolate. 

The obvious question dogged me- how do they bake it with the filling inside?

Eventually I figured out that the layer cake actually consists of two cakes (or one cut in half), with the filling piped in post baking.  Probably you have also realized this and figured, as did I, that it was all just far too much bother to actually make one when you can purchase a very good cake, prelayered, from the local bakery.

cake image via I am Baker
As it turns out a layer cake of some description is virtually mandatory for all birthday’s (especially childrens’ birthdays) taking place on Danish soil. And this year I was called upon to make one. Like most tasks that seem insurmountable, the layer cake actually turned out to be quite easy. Yes, that’s right; you do not need to be a domestic goddess to pull this off.  

Needless to say we had a few wobbles (e.g. I would not recommend attempting to divide or ice the cake before it is thoroughly cooled), but the point is that it tasted delicious. Last week I had a second go and the aesthetics were considerably better.

Anyway, it seems a shame for all children to grow up knowing so little of the secrets of layer cake (i.e. it is actually two cakes and they do not bake it with the filling inside). And it strikes me that spending an afternoon tackling a layer cake with your kids in the run up to the next birthday party could be well worthwhile. 

The beautiful thing about it is that not only will the kids have heaps of fun, but you needn’t worry about ruining the birthday cake. As my stepmother said to me on the phone from Australia as I frantically attempted to recover my first effort- chocolate icing will cover a myriad of sins…

I would recommend this Jamie Oliver adaption. Or if you’re feeling a bit chocolately ambitious and want to really mess up the kitchen this Nigella Lawson creation is perfect. 

Cake via Jamie Oliver

So, no excuses; get your kids into the kitchen and get layering people!

Take care,

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas... time to start thinking about food!

With the aisles filling with Christmas goodies and The Inspired Occasion gearing up for The Big Give, I thought it was time to start putting pen to paper for our own Christmas celebrations on Christmas night.

We will be in no shape to be slaving in the kitchen by the end of the day, so I’m putting my mind into gear for some easy, yummy and festive supper delights, that can be prepared in advance. 

Something that will bring us all together, over some bubbles, to reflect on the day. 

For the first time in our family Christmas history; out will be the hours basting turkey breasts and preparing roast vegetables, and in will be a trip to the local market on Christmas Eve to pull together a cold seafood platter. King prawns, smoked salmon, lobster, oysters and dipping sauces - an entree that come straight out of the fridge and onto the table. Add in a few finger bowls and lemon wedges, and our entree will be served. 

Whilst we relax and watch the kids play with their new toys, our main meal will be more rustic or should, I dare say Jamie Oliver style. Wooden boards piled with; freshly sliced ham off the bone, turkey or chicken breast, assorted cheeses and an array of condiments served with lots of fresh bread and good quality olive oil. Side dishes consisting of a pear and parmesan salad, a smashed potato salad and coleslaw, all of which can be prepared quickly and fuss free.

For dessert, we will still be enjoying my traditional plum pudding - it wouldn't feel like Christmas without it! With the fruit already marinating in brandy now - served with double cream and brandy custard, it will be delicious. We will also be enjoying an Australian classic - a pavlova piled high with lashings of cream and fresh berries.

Sounds easy and so yummy - can't wait!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Big Give...No-one should have to spend Christmas alone

Last week we told you all how we were planning to spend our Christmas day this year, managing The Big Give...you can read all about it here.

Since then, we have been busy contacting businesses far and wide, large and small, asking them to help out wherever they can. And you know what? We are SO impressed with the community spirit out there. We have had so many businesses and individuals reach into their hearts (and wallets) and meet our challenge to help.

We are super excited to announce that already, we now have enough fresh fruit, vegetables, chickens and cupcakes (by Sweet Statements), to have the beginnings of a fabulous meal.

Lombards Moorabin - a party supply company has also put forward a carton of napkins and cups, which is very generous of them (however we still need plates!).

Maybe most exciting (well, to me anyway!), thanks to Sage Building Services, has been the promise of a HUGE Christmas tree!

Do you think I can get one this BIG?!

We are so grateful to these businesses, however this is just the beginning! We are still looking for donations of so many other things...these include; tree decorations, craft supplies for the children's area and small gifts and/or books for kids. Small items for raffles throughout the day are also being sought. More food items - including condiments and bread will make our meal more complete.

We are also desperately seeking a photographer and some entertainment. A choir, a band, a comedian, a clown, a face painter, a person with their guitar - we really won't be picky!! These will only be required for an hour or two, but will help us capture the special day, and add a fabulous festive touch.

Maybe you can help? Or maybe, you know someone who can? If you are interested, please email us and we will send you our sponsor pack.

The Big Give is also accepting financial donations - which can be made here. All donations above $2 are tax deductible and receipt will be provided.

We will be giving you a weekly update on this very special event as it comes closer. And thank you all for your kind words, offers to help and support as we pull this enormous special event together.

No-one should have to spend Christmas alone.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A very happy 'unbirthday' to you!

One of my daughters favourite movies is Alice in Wonderland. She loves the old Disney version and sings the song.."a very happy un-birthday to you" from the Mad Hatter's Tea Party scene over and over again, every time she watches it.

So, when I saw this twist on the currently popular Alice party theme that Moonlight and Whimsy put together for her daughter's 11th birthday, I loved it immediately.

Taking advantage of a lovely sunny QLD day, the table looks fabulous set up in the back yard, with the fresh red and blue colour scheme. The addition of the ribbon and lantern chandelier strung across the table, waving in the breeze, is divine.

Guests were treated to a delicious looking spread and played a host of Alice themed games... I can see why it was the 'talk of the class' with all her friends!

For a look at all the pictures from the party, along with a full list of suppliers (including some of our favourites - Candy Soirees and Giggleberry Creations) make sure you check out the Moonlight and Whimsy blog.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Euro Style - Perambulation

In my first contribution to the Inspired Occasion I discussion getting the kids around using bikes, now it's time to talk prams...

Choosing a pram for your bundle of joy seems to be as much about style these days as it is about safety, comfort and maneuverability. Where once prams were simply a way to get your children from A to B without breaking your back, they're now more like a large handbag on wheels...
As with handbags some women will opt for sheer practicality when choosing a pram and end up with the pram equivalent of a hessian sack. Some will opt for sheer style perfection- as the women in London do with the extremely popular Maclaren prams (in a variety of colours, but always, always the same shape).  

It's lovely to look at, but not terribly practical in rough terrain or bad weather conditions and it doesn't have much in the way of storage. It is the Louise Vuitton luggage collection of prams, if you will.

The Danes, on the other hand, prefer a more classic model. More akin to something that I would refer to as a baby carriage rather than a pram, the prams wheeled around by the mothers of Copenhagen are once again a stylish twist on an old favourite. Make no mistake - these prams are large and sturdy. But not large and sturdy like a tuck shop lady's arms, more like an environmentally friendly BMW 4WD.

Danish brand, Trille (pictured above) makes a number of models frequently sighted in my neighbourhood- complete with snowsuit wearing babies inside. They keep baby warm as toast in winter and guarantee shade in summer. 

Plus, the storage room is incomparable with any lower riding model. The downside of this extra room is that they can be quite difficult to maneuver around the supermarket, but with style oozing from  every spoke of your pram, no doubt the crowds will simply part for you...!

And what do you do when baby gets to big for the pram? Why you make them ride a bike of course! 


Monday, November 15, 2010

Flutter on over... a foodie review

As promised, tonight we would like to share part two of our Butterfly party (see part one here), focussed on the food for the little butterflies. We had clear directions for an afternoon tea filled with sweet treats suitable for our 5 year old guests.

Knowing the birthday girl loves anything chocolate the task was set to perfect my chocolate mud cake with rich chocolate truffle filling and turn a plain 32cm round mud cake into something that resembles a butterfly. After many late nights researching, I decided that lashings of vanilla buttercream and rainbow coloured coconut would be all that was needed to decorate this edible table piece. It tasted as good as it looked!

In keeping with the butterfly theme and wanting a more delicate flavour, I thought a fluffy vanilla cup cake would help balance the flavours on the table. Filled with strawberry jam and whipped cream these butterfly cakes took flight with dusting of pink and purple sprinkles and icing sugar. 

Thinking we needed something not only refreshing but mildly healthy on the table, Strawberry and Jelly Cube cups were created, which gave great colour and variety to the table. Such a simple idea but a food choice that went down well with all the chocolaty goodness and something we will definitely do again.

However the show stopper on the table would have to be the White Chocolate Pops with the pink and purple sprinkles. With our twist on a modern classic, believe me these new treats were a party pleaser for all - and no left overs!

With additional extra's of popcorn and chip cones, assorted lollies and candies, bubbles, tot bags and butterfly back drops care of my partner in crime our wonderful desert/sweet buffet table was set....and with lots of games, face painting, music, pink lemonade and presents the party girl was a magical butterfly for the day.



We will do another post later in the week looking at some of the other aspects of this super fun party! 

PS - A big thank you to Candy Soirees for the fabulous colour coded chocolates that we used - they were so fabulous and looked so effective on the table!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Flutter on over....

This weekend we had the joy of helping a beautiful little girl celebrate her 5th birthday party. The brief from the birthday girl was purple, pink (but not flowery) and lots and lots of butterflies...
Tissue paper pom pom chandelier

We had 12 guests and we chose to do an afternoon tea with the girls. We included games, craft and face painting... if the smiles and giggles were anything to go by, a good time was had by all.

Despite having to move locations from the picturesque front yard, under a large tree, to the (enormous) back deck at the last minute, due to the crazy Melbourne weather, we are still really pleased with how it all turned out.

Over the next few days we will share some more of the details and of course, more photo's... but tonight enjoy a few of our favourites!

The table

Tiny butterfly bubbles for each guest to add to their tote bags
Strawberries and Jelly cubes... a big hit!
Lollies, lollies and more lollies!
The craft activity table
The kids table... complete with fabulous butterfly tree and butterfly antennas for each guest... One of my favourite parts of the day was just before the guests arrived and a REAL butterfly landed on the table... we grabbed for the camera but just missed it.. must have been a sign though. 
A thank you....
The butterfly flutter space
Tomorrow night, Alex will take you through the menu (including the amazingly delicious butterfly cake) and then later in the week, I will do a how-to on making the butterfly antenna's for your own little butterflies...

Big thank you's to our fabulous suppliers;
Candy Soirees - for all the colour coded smarties and the super cute tote boxes
Maggie Made - for the beautiful butterfly tree (look out for this tree, we are using it again in a couple of weeks at another party)
Sweet Little Birdy - for the gorgeous jelly and strawberry cups

Hope you enjoyed - we sure did!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Big Give - how can you help?

It’s the time of the year when our thoughts naturally turn to Christmas and the festive time ahead. The stores are filling with decorations and soon carols will be heard in every shopping centre. It’s a time where we naturally reflect on Christmases past and look forward to what this year will bring.

As a child, my favourite Christmases were those where the whole family was packed around Grandma's big table. Pulling bon bons, wearing silly hats and telling dumb jokes. Eating too much and still having left-overs. My uncle always asking, "so Nay, what's the goss" and all the kids laughing because it sounded so silly!

Now I have my own family and we have all grown up, things are different - but still the so much the same. Family, friends and lots of good food. My uncle still asks "so Nay, what's the goss?' and I still laugh.

I can't be certain, but I would guess you could relate to my Christmases... some things will be different, sure... but I bet the core elements- the food, the family and the friends - are the same. Because really, that's what special Christmases are made of, aren't they?

Last Christmas - Gracie and I

As a parent, I can't imagine the desperation, the heartache of knowing I couldn't make Christmas special for my family. And it's not the toys, the gifts - it's the family and the friends. Having someone care and want to spend time chatting and asking me "what's the goss?". Having enough food to have eaten too much and still have left overs.

This year, we will be adding something new to our family Christmas memories, as we spend the day with those less fortunate. We will be extending our circle and enjoying a very big table, hopefully piled high with food and lots of laughter, a
s we work with St Mary’s House of Welcome and a dedicated team of volunteers in putting on The Big Give.

The Big Give has one aim - no one should be alone on Christmas Day.

This year, The Big Give will be hosting around 300 homeless and disadvantaged families for Christmas lunch at the Fitzroy Town Hall. Now in it's 7th year, The Big Give has become something of a Melbourne institution. It relies heavily on generous donations and volunteers to ensure this event is a special one for all the guests.

So, we are asking, can you afford to share some of your skills or time to make Christmas special for people who may otherwise have to spend it alone? Details of specifics required are to come in later posts, but if you think you may be able to help we would urge you to contact us via email at: occasions@theinspiredoccasion.com.au

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